It’s been 20 long years of waiting for fans of the original GunGrave game, and finally, in 2023 it’s back as GunGrave G.O.R.E. Gore is right, this game is one of the bloodiest games in recent memory, from heads exploding to holes blown through torsos, G.O.R.E. has it all.
As a caveat to this review, I will mention that I never played the original game, so I went into GunGrave G.O.R.E blind. The game has a “history” section at the main menu that plays a video explaining the series to this point which is very useful if the developer is trying to attract younger gamers, so I watched that to gain some context.
Story wise this game is light on, extremely light on. The main character is named Grave, he shoots guns at enemies named The Raven Clan. That’s pretty much the gist of it. There is a hard to follow background narrative that includes the good guys trying to stop some contagion or virus getting released. The story is definitely not why players would enjoy this game, and that isn’t necessarily an issue.
GunGrave is all about destroying enemies, utilising guns, and a magical coffin to do so. The gunplay in this game is relatively simple, point and shoot with a button to hold to lock on. The player will try to keep the combo meter going for as long as possible while also adding to the combo with the “art meter” which counts up when the player performs stylish moves like finishers. There are special moves and skills, and the coffin is used for melee combat. The enemy types vary from small guys with guns to giant worms and robot tanks. All that being said, if the player isn’t a fan of button mash style “hack and slash” or “shoot em up” games, this is probably not for them. The game feels very arcade, in that the difficulty usually spikes towards the end of each level with the game just throwing more and more enemies at the player. Then the next level begins, and they start again. All these features will be an asset for players of the genre, simplicity in the gunplay and mechanics make these areas shine. I could not fault the overall battle mechanics of the game at all.
Once the player has played one or two levels, they have played them all essentially. The environments are not overly inspiring, lots of city streets and warehouse style buildings, with a smattering of forest here or there.
Graphically, GunGrave G.O.R.E sets the bar high with its intro cutscene looking spectacular, and then immediately drops the ball when the first level begins. Character models look stiff and often jerk around. The players character looks like it was made for last gen consoles, which is most likely the case. More subpar graphics rear their head when objects start to explode. The explosions look average at best, really jerking the player out of any immersion they may have had prior to seeing them.
This game can be played with full Japanese or English voice acting. I’m unsure if the following issue exists in the Japanese version of this game, but in English almost every enemy that the player comes across exclaims what sounds like “Holy Shit” or “What the Fuck”. Now imagine 30 enemies appearing at once and saying one of those phrases. It gets old very fast. Hopefully this can be fixed after release. There is also the voice of one of Grave’s teammates in the player’s ear helping them along the way. Sometimes she gets rather irritating telling the player to “jump over this” or “watch out up high” for the 10th time.
GunGrave G.O.R.E has two different graphical modes, Performance and Quality. Quality mode has the game running at 4K, 30fps with raytracing, whereas Performance runs at 60fps and 4K without raytracing. I tested the game on both settings, Performance mode had frame rate drops during cutscenes and parts of levels with many enemies. Quality mode is an improvement in fidelity, giving the player a nicer world to look at, but the 30fps is a tough sell with the gameplay being as fast as it is. I recommend sticking with performance mode for the best experience, even with the framerate drops.
One feature of GunGrave G.O.R.E that I was not a fan of was the random Quick Time Events (QTEs) that seem to pop up for no reason. QTEs are a lazy gameplay inclusion in any game, but in this game, they are especially bad. They sometimes popped up for no apparent reason, the action becoming clear after the player hits the button, which is terrible design in my opinion. They seem to have been added just because, and they don’t add anything to the experience.
The soundtrack of GunGrave is very fitting, death metal slams through the speakers as the player deals out death to hundreds of enemies. It pairs excellently with the gameplay and really lifts the experience.
GunGrave G.O.R.E. is an Xbox Play Anywhere title which provides excellent value for players who game on both Xbox and PC. Coming to Game Pass day one is also a great asset which will hopefully push the developer to support and update the game.
This game is an extremely bloody and brutal experience which shouldn’t be played with children around.